I have copies of some (not all) manuscripts of a centuries-old anonymous Arabic text entitled Kitab al-Azama, The Book of the Sublime, or if you so wish: of God’s Majesty. It is about cosmology, Paradise, Hell, and much more.
At first I had intended to publish this text in a printed version. But that would have been a heavy job, resulting in a voluminous and expensive book. And for whom? Neither the readership in the Near East, nor the impoverished students of Europe would buy such an expensive book. Moreover, there is already an uncritical edition; see the Introductory Chapter on that.
Then it occurred to me to work on it in the internet. The advantage is that I can do it piecemeal and correct or refine the parts that were already done. I set out with rough versions that will be refined gradually. So please remember: this is a work in progress. Yes, the longer I think of it, the more suitable an internet publication seems to be.
The internet will be my kitchen and you, respected readers, may look into it; but as a matter of fact, you must not. All twenty of you: download and copy whatever you like. Nobody knows how long I will be in the internet, nobody knows how long the internet will exist. It would be terribly decent if you were to mention my name and affiliation (Wim Raven, University of Marburg, Germany), when you use my work in any way, but I am well aware that some of you won’t do that. What matters is that people get to know this text. After Adam, Daniel and ‘Abdallāh ibn Salām, it now seems to be my turn to pass on the Kitāb al-‘Aẓama. If you think you can get world famous with it, please go ahead! I will begin with editing the texts about Hell, so that you know where you’ll end up in case of plagiarism.
Don’t be disappointed too soon. In the beginning, there will be not much to read here, but it will grow. If you want to follow the progress, you can subscribe.
You will read many poor sentences. Part of them are due to my non-native English; they will be improved in due course. But please be aware that the original is also quite trashy. However, that the book is not first class does not mean it is not interesting. Century-old books are interesting by definition, however vulgar they may be. This text gives an insight in how certain – which ones I don’t know yet – islamic circles thought about cosmology, Paradise and Hell. A first impression of the Kitāb al-‘Aẓama you may obtain in an article that I wrote on it in 1993.
All pages of the Kitāb al-‘Aẓama project, including the present one, can be changed and improved at any moment.
When you have difficulties in reading the English texts on your screen, it may be helpful to copy them into Word documents and change the font to Arial Unicode MS or another font that contains the special unicode characters, as e.g. Gentium.
I chose a pleasantly readable Arabic font for the Arabic texts, but it depends of your browser whether you see it. The Arabic texts can be generally read on Apple and Windows computers, but many tablets and mobile phones cannot handle the vowel signs. If need be, try copying the texts into a computer. If that does not help, please resort to the .pdf files. In some browsers, the .pdfs look terribly, but when you load them down, they are fine.